Small but mighty – 9 1/2″ Shelby winning in the 12″ class in 1998 at the age of 10 years old.

When I think back on to my first years in agility with my Jack Russell Terrier “Shelby,”  it makes me happy to see where agility has come. Shelby competed almost exclusively in USDAA where at only 9 1/2″ tall she had to climb a 6′ 3″ A Frame, manoeuvre over contacts with 1″ slats (including the seesaw) which made them almost seem like cavalettis to a dog her size and she had to jump 12″ jumps . . . but wait here in 2013 she would still have to jump 12″ in USDAA (not in AAC, or CKC, or AKC or I am sure many other venues).

I applaud USDAA for taking the initiative for changing their jump heights but, why not add a Championship 8 or 10″ class for those little dogs?

The new jump heights in USDAA are now:

12″ for those dogs 12″ tall and under

14″ for those dogs 14″ tall and under

16″ for those dogs 16″ tall and under

18″ for those dogs 17 1/2″ and under

22″ for those dogs 21″ and under

and 26″ for all dogs over 21″ tall.

So that leaves us with the little dogs like Shelby still having to jump 12″ or be regulated to the “performance” classes because they are not really “Championship quality” dogs. Ouch.

Even though I haven’t been in the 12″ class for a while, I will always feel like a “small dog handler” at heart and am disappointed in USDAA for not standing up for the little guys. Yes, there are less “paying customers” in this tiny little jump class but fair and equal treatment should be available to all dogs of all sizes.

I hope USDAA will take another look at this in their efforts to keep pace with the needs of all agility enthusiasts out there. I would love to hear your opinion about the new USDAA height classes but be sure when leaving your comments to be respectful to the effort USDAA has made; as the late coach John Wooden used to say,  “we don’t have to be disagreeable just because we disagree.”  So please let’s have some constructive positive comments that can help USDAA understand our views in a way that inspires them to keep wanting to make changes in the best interest of the dogs.

Today I am grateful to USDAA for being open to feedback and willing to make changes for the needs of their customers . . . let’s hope this is one more!